Ask the mineshaft: how to make America angry and so awaken from our stupor

Summary:   A long series of posts have described the stupor into which the American people has fallen.  The only path to reform requires an aroused citizenry.  How can we arouse ourselves?   Here we ask the mineshaft.   {Aka ”ask the community”, from the German “Gemeinschaft”. See Wikipedia}

The Second Republic, founded on the Constitution, nears death from our indifference.  Blaming our ruling elites for taking advantage gains us nothing, for nature abhors a vacuum.  We grow weak, therefore they grow stronger.  As our great guru Disney explains, that’s the circle of life.

We need not accept this evolution.  There is a simple — if long and difficult — path to a new and better America.  Learn and listen.  Get angry.  Talk with others and organize.  The Tea Party had the formula right, although it was clear from the beginning they were mired in lies and confused thinking.  For more about this see Five steps to fixing America.  These are small, easy, simple steps, as a cure is not possible at this time, IMO.  We have to build our strength before we can have any reasonable odds of reforming America or building a Third Republic.

But this requires an aroused people.  All paths forward require arousing the American people.  How can we do this?  What first steps should we take?

Please post your answer in the comments.

For more information:  about the quiet coup now in progress

  1. RIP, Constitution. The Second Republic died this week. Of course, we don’t care (that’s why it died)., 5 December 2011
  2. Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda, 28 December 2011
  3. Ask the mineshaft: what’s gone wrong with America?  The decay spreads faster than I imagined possible., 2 March 2012
  4. How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic), 5 March 2012
  5. Our leaders explain that we’re sheep.  Our role:  to obey.  Rebel sheep will be imprisoned or destroyed., 7 March 2012
  6. The hidden dynamics of the 2012 campaign, and what it’s doing to America, 9 March 2012

 Some solutions, ways to reform America

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
  3. Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008 — Part One.
  4. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008 — Part Two.
  5. Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008 — Part Three.
  6. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  7. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
  8. The first step on the road to America’s reform, 29 May 2009
  9. Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…, 16 October 2009
  10. The first step to reforming America (the final version), 7 December 2009
  11. Question of the Day, about reforming America, 12 March 2010
  12. The project to reform America: a matter for science, or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010
  13. The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
  14. Can we reignite the spirit of America?, 14 September 2010
  15. The sure route to reforming America, 16 November 2010
  16. Is it time to take the drastic step of calling a Constitutional Convention?, 6 May 2011
  17. Hear the cattle bellowing in the chutes. Will they revolt?, 8 September 2011
  18. Occupy Wall Street, another futile peasants’ protest, 5 October 2011
  19. Fixing America in five steps, 19 October 2011
  20. How do protests like the TP and OWS differ from effective political action?, 26 October 2011
  21. See the power of our ruling elites, displayed by the picture of a kitten, 28 October 2011
  22. Civil disobedience by the “Occupy” movement is a challenge to our rulers, 21 November 2011

63 thoughts on “Ask the mineshaft: how to make America angry and so awaken from our stupor

  1. I think it could be argued that, however ineffectually, the first steps have already been taken in the Tea Party and OWS movements. There is significant overlap of grievances in both groups, though I really wonder if it would be possible to reconcile the two.

    The anger stirred up by these movements has already seeped into the American consciousness to a small degree. I think it will take some form of widespread depredation in order to further develop that anger though.

    The current “recovery” makes it too easy for the chattering classes to dismiss the fundamental economic problems and for those who might get and stay angry to crawl back into their middleclass comfort shells. I am guilty of this myself. It’s hard to stay vigilant and forthright when Fringe is on.

    1. I agree! There are usually false dawns before the real thing. However misguided, both show that many of us have moved beyond the first stage: problem recognition!

      A large leap forward would be the people in both OWS and the Tea Party recognizing their common concerns. I suspect that both political parties fear this above all else.

  2. Not sure we have a recovery option, no matter what we try. Have a look at this interview and see that YOU think: “Why the American Empire Was Destined to Collapse“, Alternet, 7 March 2012 — “Author and social critic Morris Berman says the fact that we’re a nation of hustlers lies at the root of our decline.”

    Excerpt from Morris Berman’s comments:

    The first book in the series, The Twilight of American Culture (2000), is a structural analysis, or internal comparison, of the contemporary US and the late Roman Empire. In it, I identified factors that were central to the fall of Rome and showed that they were present in the US today. I said that if we didn’t address these, we were doomed. I didn’t believe for a moment we would, of course, and now the results are obvious.

    After 9/11, I realized that my comparison with Rome lacked one crucial component: like Rome, we were attacked from the outside. Dark Ages America (2006), the sequel to Twilight, is an analysis of US foreign policy and its relationship to domestic policy, once again arguing that there had to be a serious reevaluation of both if we were to arrest the disintegration of the nation. Of course, no such reevaluation took place, and we are now in huge economic trouble with no hope of recovery, and stuck in two wars in the Middle East that we cannot seem to win.

    1. Here’s a quote from that essay that struck me:

      “The problem I have with this is the evident fact that most Americans want the American Dream, not a different way of life —a Mercedes-Benz, as Janis Joplin once put it. Endless material wealth based on individual striving is the American ideal, and the desire to change that paradigm is practically nonexistent.” (pg 3 of essay)

    2. Why did this strike you so strongly? Why should material progress stop now?

      People who do not wish to participate in an industrial civilization can live a simplier life. Even in an urban area, one need not have advanced medical care or appliances. At home you can usually heat with wood, read by candlelight, buy only unprocessed raw foods, etc.

    3. Jonh – Exactly why I gave the interview as suggested reading. The part you quoted plus his description of the self image of strivers as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” strongly suggest that when one digs deeply, he/she discovers that the frightening foundation of the so-called American dream isn’t happiness and financial security, but acquisition. Seekers of the American Dream, with rare exceptions, are convinced that money does, indeed, buy happiness, not the real rewards of a comfortable life and the opportunity to enjoy positive human interation with true friends and a sense of self-worth based on simpler things, rather than the latest electronic gimmicks or big bucks in the bank. When I become more and more agog at this mindless pursuit of wealth at the expense of humanity, I am reminded of a line from “Chinatown” when Jack Nicholson’s character, Jake Gittes, asks a millionaire murderer why he is trying to make several millions more as a result of the murder: “Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?”

      A trip around the world wil reveal that truly contented people have no pretentious facade. Their landscaping and decoration are behind walls to be enjoyed with friends and family, not to be nominated for Yard of the Month by the local homeowners’ association, which itself is designed to add a further layer of “govenment” to lives of Americans. I wonder how many tea partiers live in gated communties with stringent rules about appearance of their houses and yards, and all the while screaming their heads off about government intrusion and control in one’s private life . . .

      Americans are the most ostentatiously pretentions people of all. While their suburban refrigerators are empty, and the houses often unfurnished, the mcmansion exteriors are pristine with the newly waxed Lexuses or BMWs in the completely viewable-from-the-street driveways, and late notices for mortgage and car payments hidden in the mailbox. Those who actually do have the credit necessary to furnish and decorate their suburban showplaces, do it for just that reason. How many times have you visited new friends, and the first words out of their mouths after they open the door to you are, “Hi! Come on in and let me show you the house!”

      The pity is that this behavior is so deeply embedded in the American DNA that most are completely unconscious of this behavior pattern. It’s no wonder they can’t see what’s happening all around them. The real tragedy is that, as middle classes emerge in developing nations, this behavior is being exported to them. The NYT today reported that newly minted consumers from Brazil, for example, are flocking in record numbers to the USA to buy goods at much lower prices than they can be had at home (almost $6 bn worth in 2010). And the US administration is abetting this consumerism/capitalism run amok by ordering consulates to speed up processing of visas so Chinese and Brazilians can max out their credit cards in Miami or San Francisco, rather than in Sao Paulo or Beijing. Not only that, but the dollar is being artificially devalued as the feds print more and more money, worth about as much as the paper and ink involved in the print run. They seem to have the deluded idea that since a lot of Americans are tapped out, these new consumers will solve our economic woes.

      This whole scenario suggests to me that it is, indeed, too late to reverse this downward spiral. Once unleashed, the self absorption of rampant consumerism can’t be reversed, and the Pandora’s box of debt, and financial slavery is open forever. If you want to know why the tea party and the OWS movements do not and cannot recognize common problems and work together to reverse them, just look at the babel of placards, each spouting its own, self-absorbed personal grievance rather than common slogans. Maybe the common slogan is, in reality, “After me, you first.” But that’s already the motto of all three branches of the US government.

      WOW! I think I need my own blog! (SEE?!)

    4. When you look at stats or read articles or even look a big crowds its really easy to over simplify the motivations of these people in your own head. You might think the waddling crowds at walmart are mindless soulless consumers deserving pity or contempt. But, you know, when you’re there, 99% of the people are normal, and they are buying normal things for totally reasonable purposes and you kind of feel like an ass for assuming.

      Maybe I am younger so I see things differently, but the ‘American dream’ as described was never really hammered into me. Neither into my friends. Maybe we’re weird, but I think not so much. I think most of us just want to live a good honest life. At the very least, we are all very skeptical about “owning” a home!

    5. Jonh – Rather than oversimplifying, I think Berman has tried to summarize the gist of his conclusions over his years of observation and documentation. The attitude ytou epress is encouraging, and I have heard it mefore. But them, history does tend to repeat itself in that arena too, It’s a fresh idea to think of oneself as an idealist, for want of a better word, but idealists grow up. Don’t forget that yesterday’s hippies are now the retiring baby boomers, many of whom, afterf they cut their hair and took baths, so to speak, became the most rabid consumers, wgo brought us much of the current disaster.

      If you can keep your simple desires and you and your liked-minded friends can run with them, it will be wonderful. The queswtion is this: Do we still have enough time left before the collapse, for you to really make a difference, or will you, like gnerations beforew you, give up when you are confronted with the economic realities of survival in an increasingly economically hostile envitonment?

    6. “Do we still have enough time left before the collapse, for you to really make a difference, or will you, like gnerations beforew you, give up when you are confronted with the economic realities of survival in an increasingly economically hostile envitonment?”

      I don’t think “economic realities” plays into the critique of materialism. If people were just surviving they wouldn’t automatically become rabid consumers.

      Those born after 1980 don’t have long hair to cut. we aren’t hippies. We never were hippies. The paradigm you think in doesn’t exist.

      We grew up always recycling. We never knew racism, really. Sexism was a thing of the past. Nuclear Holocaust has never been on our horizon.

      We did have 9/11 and CO2, but other than that our lives are pretty normal. Honestly, no one I know is afraid of terrorists. I live on the West Coast so we were pretty far away from what happened. I do know people who are freaked out by CO2 but it doesn’t govern them.

    7. Actually, I think it supports my claim that we’re different. My grandfather was born in the early 30s. He was a life long saver, he moved from the city and started a farm for more resilience/independence. His generation was the ‘Silent Generation’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Generation).

      Some quotes:

      “withdrawn, cautious, unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous and silent.”

      “Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence. With some rare exceptions, youth is nowhere near the rostrum. By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers & mothers, today’s younger generation is a still, small flame. It does not issue manifestos, make speeches or carry posters. It has been called the “Silent Generation.””

      But, check out the membership in the wiki article. Not bad.

    8. I am a late member of the silent generation, the ones who grew up in the 50s, The current crop is not silent for any of the same reasons. It is self absorption and alienation from face to face interaction in favor of electronic, and, therefore, less risky relationships. I doubt they are savers or that they look very much beyond living in the moment. So I hardly see how the gist of the op/ed supports your contentions. However, my fear is that they cannot be pried loose from, nor directed toward a more activist use of, Facebook et al, to make significant strides toward reversal of the coming collapse.

    9. Well, who knows? I am probably extremely wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time on FM.

      That said, the point I am going about roundly is that we aren’t going to protest or be activists. We are just going to evolve.

      By “coming collapse”, I assume you mean of the 2nd republic as FM states it. That may happen.

      Maybe what will collapse is the vapid soulless suburban experience you despise.

    10. Fred, do you personally know any young people who are self-absorbed and alienated beyond repair? Or do you know any really great young people personally? Maybe there is a disconnect between the logic of statistics and reality.

    11. I do peronally know a number of both, though the number who prefer Facebook to real human interaction is fascinatingly large. Having, until December, taught classes at a university, where I was able to use computer equipped rooms for the bulk of them, I was ever faascinated that, despite my admonitions to pay attention to what we were doing, and despite the fact that my classes were popular and well taught (documentation from both students and departmental officials), I had to switch computer screens from individual to instructor control almost every class meeting because of the number of students who were on Facebook, almost from the beginning of class.

      Active vocal participation was extremely low, but when they were asked to blog or use the discussion board, a larger number participatged, though far from all.

      Maybe I am out of it and don’t know how to read the signs of self-absorption and/or alienation, but such are my conclusions from years of experience with students who ostensibly were there to learn . . .

    12. I’ll read the piece, but quick note:” Life is so much richer than being in a particular a geographic location, specifically one whose cost to maintain leaves little more than “being” rather than living.. ”

      This is precisely the lesson I think we have learned from our parents. The housing crash really drove that home for me at least.

    13. Fred.. I read the piece. It is daunting! The cure proposed is more activism. I don’t know about that. To me, activism has been cliche and ignorable. It isn’t engaging on broad points. Maybe one item at a time. I think it’s best to have a good culture that can intuit a good governance.

    14. I still doubt that it will as FM hopes, save the repunlic or bring about a second one. I think that millinnea of second chances, having taught us little, will have no effect with the current generations living in the USA

    15. I see a few rays of hope in the rising generation.

      One is the impressive resonance of “The Hunger Games,” which suggests that a great many young people recognize that much is wrong with the mores of American society, even if they don’t know how to fix them. There’s apparently a growing recognition that our capricious reality TV culture has gotten out of control. This is a huge improvement over the past decade or so of “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” “Scared Straight,” “American Idol,” “Jackass,” etc. A large cohort of American youth seems to be turning away from sadistic voyeurism and towards deeper, morally grounded fare. If this translates into the political sphere, even subtly and incrementally, the positive effects could be substantial.

      I’m 29, with a number of close friends my age and in their early twenties, as well as a number of acquaintances whom I follow closely on Facebook. I see a lot of superficial and disengaged people in this group, but there are others who are morally and intellectually engaged, sharp thinkers and, in a few cases, voracious readers and superb writers. Literacy may be flagging among Millennials, but it isn’t dead. For some of us, Facebook is turning into a combination of post office, library and journal club, enabling us to stay meaningfully in touch with people whom we otherwise wouldn’t and to get recommendations for worthwhile reading that we’d otherwise miss. I have serious misgivings about the motives of Zuckerberg et al. (similar to the misgivings that Americans in the Nineteenth Century had about the railroads), but the platform that they’ve built can be, and often is, used to good ends.

      Millennials’ devotion to family and community is another bright spot. The authors of the NY Times op-ed imply, among other things, that it’s irresponsible for a credentialed teacher to work at a tire factory rather than relocate thousands of miles away for a teaching job. They also suggest that it’s responsible for an unemployed Nevadan to buy a one-way bus ticket to North Dakota and try hacking it in the oil patch. Given how expensive and scarce housing has become in the oil patch, this is a misleading suggestion. Nor do they concede how socially and emotionally disruptive it is to move away from friends and family, which I have experienced firsthand. Risk aversion in these cases can have real benefits for the individual and for society.

    16. “Literacy may be flagging among Millennials, but it isn’t dead. For some of us, Facebook is turning into a combination of post office, library and journal club, enabling us to stay meaningfully in touch … Millennials’ devotion to family and community is another bright spot.”

      Thank you for your comment. However, I don’t believe you grasp the fears for the fate of the Republic. Literal people, devoted to family and community, make fine subjects. Smart, hard-working consumers. Peons.

      Citizens are those devoted to our political regime, willing to work hard and risk much for its preservation. The two kinds of people might look the same, but produce very different nations.

  3. @Fred- Just skimmed over the article.

    I don’t think the american empire has collapsed. It also hasn’t failed to bring in lots of material wealth from the rest of the world. Hasn’t failed to bring in enough more cars, houses, consumer goods, oil, gas, and electricity. Hasn’t failed to maintain the ability to bring in more.

    It’s failing badly at the task of distributing all that material wealth to the residents of the country. But it has NOT failed to maintain their support for the system – it is pretty successful at that.

    The financial system is going down the tubes. You could argue that the financial system is responsible for directing future economic activity. So that’s pretty bad. But countries and societies can survive financial collapse. Empires too, as long as they make sure that their competitors suffer an equal or greater amount during the financial collapse.

    1. Maybe more than a cursory reading is in order. The interview itself only skims over Berman’s concepts and decades of observations, but gives a wealth of documentation to pursue. I believe his contention is less that the possibility doesn’t exist to reverse course but rather because of our centuries of programming, the American psyche lacks the will to make the fundamental shift from the focus on acquisition at the expense of all else to a major readjustment of pruorities. Like Berman, I left the USA, but only recently on a permanent basis, after many years of traveling and experiencing more humane and beautiful lifestyles, and after having watched any shred of the love of learning and appreciation of true moral and aesthetic pursuits disappear from our universities, as they transmogrified into training schools for docile workers and middle management (check the epidemic proliferation of MBA programs at newly minted universities made fom mediocre lib/arts colleges struggling to survive), the students of which couldn’t car less about art unless it was owning some as an investment, or music, unless supporting it provided a major tax writeoff. As for literature? “Sorry, I don’t read.” would be their reply to an inquiry about their latest literary pursuit.

      Like Berman, I am living now in a country which, despite its remarkable conomic advances in the past 20 or so years, has managed to retain a large portion of its heart, intact and ready to share good fortune, as well as bad times. To laugh and weep together with friends and neighbors and to be really, truly human – and humane. And though my American roots go back to the 17th century, I have never, never felt, as too many Americans do, like a “temporarily embarrassed millionaire,” as Berman puts it.

  4. >>> how to make America angry and so awaken from our stupor?

    A TV reality show about the lives of ordinary people in other first world countries.

    1. Nobody would watch it, is the only thing. Not to mention that the daily lives of most people in other first world countries seem very deprived to the values system of most Americans. Those who don’t see them as deprived are for the most part already angry.

      I think the stupor of the largest mass of people is comfortable enough for them to wear for as long as their daily lives aren’t affected. However, I also think that the number of angry people will grow with each iteration of “oops we blew it up” followed by the culprits getting off scott free. As the decay sets in and these iterations happen increasingly more frequently, this number of disaffected will harden and solidify into something more and more tangible and effective as a political force. Thus it will become harder and harder for those in power to get away with it without more overt acts of violence and power-grabbing.

      Reality shows and the internet as celebrity lottery will only work for so long to preserve the dying echoes of the American dream. Eventually this dream will ring hollow and people will ache for substance and tradition once again. I would argue that it will happen within the Millenial cohort, though I could be persuaded that they are too far gone to yearn for something different.

    2. (1) US – China : This repeats the standard pattern between a great power and emerging nations. Today is similar in many ways to US – UK relations in the decades after the Founding. Emerging nations can easily get crushed by developed nations, so they put up trade barriers and give access to their markets in exchange for foreign technology and capital. China’s internal financial structure generates adequate capital, so all they need is technology. Everybody steals technology from foreigners, going back to the dawn of history.

      Most of the problems that I believe underly your comment result from the US policy of maintaining the US dollar at an overvalued level. This results in trade deficits: imports are too cheap, exports too-expensive. Again, in this we copy UK history. The pound was overvalued in 1925, and only generations of decay and crisises worked it to a reasonable level in the 1970s. That’s our decision, not China’s.

      (2) Speculation on almost everything increased starting in the early 1980’s, for a variety of reasons. Technology, lower costs, evolution of exchanges, lax regulation, etc. Your comment is a commonplace of commodity analysis — examining trends affecting the entire commodity complex (or sections of it: industrial materials, foods, currencies, etc) but only looking at a single commodity.

    3. I reluctantly agree with Niles Bliss about the reality show although I love the concept.

      It is best to think of the US as an extremely large island with no neighbors. I know this isn’t physically true but the Canadians and the Mexicans have decided to both keep an emotional distance (healthy but means they can be ignored) and to emulate US thinking in major areas (particularly the Mexican drug wars). Neither country possesses the gravitas at this time to influence the still-enormously powerful US.

      I also reluctantly agree with Niles about the stupor of the American people. I’ve been looking for a way to express my thinking on the subject and he does a better job than I do. But I’d add to his comments in that this has been going on for a long time and there is a major segment (40% or more) of the US population that has either lost faith in themselves and America or are one lost paycheck away from doing so.

      They are more hopeless than angry and do not feel like they have any power. This is why reality shows such as American Idol and the Voice resonate so well, it is the last shred of hope that somebody will reach down from above and give a lucky (not necessarily talented) few the American Dream. The view of this large downtrodden population is that they do not deserve anything more than they already have but they will gladly watch a few others be given (not necessarily earn) a chance at the big time.

      Unfortunately this is not the basis for a political force. But stay tuned for further developments as the situation is still in flux.

    4. Please remember the purpose of this thread: suggest actions!

      This website (and others) already has scores of posts of analysis and diagnosis. Let’s make this one different. Brain-storming!!!

    5. As individuals, challenge people when they make assumptions or assertions you know to be flat out wrong. If the time is right, give them an explanation. Don’t be a jerk about it, but be persistent and insistent on the important things. You may not change their mind, but the next time they make that assertion there is a good chance they will think twice about it or not make it at all. The best thing we can do is try to change minds and stoke the fires ourselves.

    6. >>>Niles Bliss>>> However, I also think that the number of angry people will grow with each iteration of “oops we blew it up” followed by the culprits getting off scott free.

      Wow, what a great line!

    7. >>>Niles>>> As individuals, challenge people when they make assumptions or assertions you know to be flat out wrong…

      Yep. This website has done that for me more than once! (Kudos to FM!).

    8. As you know, FM, I strongly agree with your premise and goals but I don’t think direct action will positively influence the situation. Indirect action, on the other hand, can yield some positive results and set the stage for future direct action.

      We are doing the first steps already simply by communicating with each other and remembering what we were, how much we are losing, and why. FM has suggested that we involve ourselves in the low-level political process and I think that is a good idea as well.

      Niles suggested connecting with people one-on-one. That is another good idea, we need to avoid losing more people to hopelessness and despair.

      Avoid direct conflict with the authorities but don’t hesitate to continually ask questions of the appointed and elected officials. We are all riding a wave right now and we need to understand which officials are doing this because they have to and which are enjoying themselves too much. These questions serve the additional purpose of swaying the leaders to do the right thing instead of the expeditious thing.

      We also need to make sure that our own OODA loop is working properly. Plans based on fantasies and inaccurate information rarely meet with success.

      Meeting with other groups and coming to understand their goals and the validity of their positions is another possibility. I wish we could have gotten to the Tea Party in that brief moment before they went nuts. We might have made a difference, although I doubt it, the Tea Party had craziness built into its DNA from the start. I am very curious as to what the OWS movement has planned. They’ve been surprisingly quiet since last fall.

      We also need to start thinking like Global Guerillas, but not as nilistically as John Robb. Targeted systems disruption, and I’m speaking solely of political systems disruption, may be an option/necessary at some point in the future.

      Does this line of thinking make you happier, FM?

    9. In the vein of connecting one on one, it might useful to identify the most pernicious misinformation that we regularly encounter and make a commitment to challenge it when we do. It also would be useful to prepare some talking points (in a non-knee-jerk fashion) to most effectively argue against and change the minds of the misinformed without more deeply rooting those we challenge into their lies.

      As far as system disruption, is there any nonviolent way to actively disrupt the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media? The tame intellectuals in the highest positions of the middle class opinion making media would be the best place to attempt to disrupt the misinformation stream I think. Some sort of letter writing campaign, perhaps, targeted at these individuals?

    10. Of course FM does a great job of collecting and challenging these misconceptions, but I don’t recall if there has been a “list of lies” or a collection of counterarguments to them.

    11. Yes, FM, you’ve made a very sizable dent and the world would be a considerably worse place without this website. Your reader base and influence are growing, enough so that I sometimes worry about you. It is much easier to destroy than create in these cynical times.

      I cannot say that your actions will be enough to save the second republic but nobody will be able to say you didn’t try. And even if you fail, you’ll have an impact on what comes next and that is no small deed. Keep swinging for the fences and we’ll see what the score is at the end of the game.

  5. I have to disagree that the “tea party” is a valid movement for change. While often it models itself on the original teaparty which was for change that impacts me this very moment being a Son of the American Revolution and sipping a cup of COFFEE NOT TEA.

    TEA PARTY is really just a bunch of loyalist that don’t want change or progress. Specifically they would rather assure access to foriegn oil than transform to alternative sources. To me this is very similar to taxation without representation as the cost of oil is now speculative based on soveriegn wealth monopolies and a few global corporations that all strive for increasing price per barrel rather than manage themselves as Adam Smith intended commodities to be managed.

    My second perseption is the modern TEA PARTY does not want labor to be anything more than free. That’s why everything is overseas and we have to buy about 5times as many cheap products to get the lifetime of value that used to come from a locally produced good.

    My third perseption is that the original TEA PARTY were not Puritants;)

    If you want to get angry, ask yourself (1) why we speculate on oil and (2) why trade imbalance favors countries that enslave children-workers and send us products that often fail, unsafe while limiting our access to their markets (previous strategic leadership never would have allowed this; EX: Boxer Rebellion) and (3) Where did Nixon go?

    1. (1) About the Tea Party

      I don’t know what “valid movement for change” means. The summary is that the TP represents a group of angry Republicans who were coopted to become shock troops for right-wing elements of the party. These people are citizens concerned with their nation and willing to invest their time, energy, and money. It’s a positive sign, however disappointing the expression. For more see:

      (2) As for Kdogeod’s questions:

      Why do we speculate on oil? We have commodity markets to facilitate price discovery, provide liquidity, and allow risk transfer.

      Why do trade imbalance favors countries that enslave children-workers and send us products that often fail, unsafe while limiting our access to their markets (previous strategic leadership never would have allowed this; EX: Boxer Rebellion). That combines many different issues. In brief, many emerging nations have adopted the Bretton Woods II system: high savings rates, undervalued currencies, and export-led growth. They also, like the US at that state of development, have trade barriers and employ child as workers.

      Where did Nixon go? He died in 1994; we don’t know where he went.

  6. Thanks Fabius. Agree with your counterpoints:) IRT to Nixon adn trade agreements – My intent is that Nixon went China, a decade later we offer them most favored nations status and after two decades have very limited access to their markets other than transfer of knowledge [with many illegal copyrights and patent violations].

    IRT to oil spectulation-we have only spectulated on oil since the mid-80’s–wallstreet led inflation to the price that we pay for not real risk, as really it is not in any ones interest to stop selling oil.

    Finally, agree that the tea party message is just as disconnnected as OWS, I actually think the TP is more disconnected.

  7. The tactical error of OWS was going for the long term occupation of sites. They set up camps, and then, well, the homeless have no place to go, but most people still need to make a living. So initially there’s a movement and excitement at the possibility of change, but then, well, people still need to do their taxes and go to work and take care of their children. Not everyone can stop their lives and camp out long term at some park near Wall Street. As people inevitably go back to their homes the camps decline in size, the cops move in for the final ‘cleanup’ — they post a few violent videos on youtube, which the media ignores, and then all the TV watchers think “well, that’s over.” If the unemployment level increases even higher, there will be a larger pool of desperate people, and maybe this kind of thing might be feasible, but right now we’re not quite there yet.

    Better to produce large crowds and then disperse them, I think. There was Farakan’s Million Man event, though maybe it wasn’t a million guys, it was still pretty impressive. The anti-Abortion guys have also produced quite large demonstrations, and they all get ignored by the media, so large crowds aren’t sure to get attention. Ultimately, it has to be a massive crowd that has moral authority and a confrontation with police who are seen as clearly in the wrong. This is how you bring it all down.

    I think the issue right now is that the left is effectively co-opted by Obama. So that no large anti-war protests occur because ‘that might hurt Obama.’ If Romney/whatever gets elected, I expect large anti-war demonstrations from the left, but then this will again polarize the country into left-right and after than nothing happens. Any Republican president who continues the Bush/Obama war policies can honestly claim that a Democrat supported this too, and all the protests are political gaming, which the people will see as true, and this will knock the wind out.

    In the 60’s things started to turn when the left turned on LBJ. This is the first step. We have to let go of attachment to this Democrat/Republican nonsense. Until that happens, nothing happens.

  8. Great prompt, Fabius.

    One quick answer – we need to break the habit of tv news. It’s the worse source of information available to us now, to put it charitably. Tv news is fine tool for distracting and dumbing down citizens. Personally, we need to shun it; next, ruin its reputation.

    1. I understand the impluse to condemn TV news. I agree fully with your description.

      But it’s a product sold because we want it. Like junk food and pulp westerns. In a free-market economy we get what we want. Not what we need. Not what we wish we wanted, or say we want.

      Imagine if the government proposed something like the BBC, with taxes for a larger version of PBS.

    2. Bryan– Totally agree there. Get rid of the TV. I did years ago. If I want to watch a game, I’ll go to the bar down the street. Everything else was just trash IMO.

      Next thing to watch out for: the internet. Some guys I know who gave up TV for internet news focus only on Breibart/Drudge/Insta-sites. You could get trapped down a little rabbit hole there. So watch out for that. FM recommends print like Economist.

    3. Fabius, that’s a good if sad truth. There’s also a symbiotic relationship, or a virtuous circle: people expect narcotizing trash on tv, tv firms respond, each getting used to the offerings.
      Perhaps a PBS+ move is something to be supported.

      jonh, I’m with you on this. We got ride of tv 10 years ago, and haven’t looked back.
      Re: the internet, agreed that folks can use it stupidly – largely due to applying tv practices. I love watching older folks pick up iPads and watch tv on it. But digital literacy is the way to go. Check out Howard Rheingold’s new book for a fine example.

  9. Some recommended actions:

    Try to harness social media. Start a Facebook page called “The Third Republic.” Use it to detail the ways are country is decaying and give advice on which government officials are responsible.

    Look at the recent success of the Kony2012 video. Create a youtube video detailing how are country is going wrong.

    Every time a friend on facebook complains about something the government is doing send them this link: http://www.house.gov/ tell them to write their representative about the issue.

    None of this is likely going to change much but it’s the best I can come up with at the moment.

    1. Change comes from incremental progress. The ground game. Opportunities to put the ball in the air come only rarely, and require great preparation for success.

    2. I really like the Third Republic idea, especially with an effective video. Of course, it would require a succinct list of what needs to be accomplished and what needs can be done now. Something like Grover Norquist’s ridiculous anti-tax pledge, but an anti-violation of civil rights pledge for candidates. By focusing on the violation of rights ACTUALLY guaranteed by the constitution it might be able to pull in the discontented from both sides of the aisle. There isn’t enough being made of Holder’s decision, and there is room there to spread anger I think.

  10. I’m going to warn you now, if you don’t want to have your mellow harshed, if you don’t want to read a REAL downer of a post, just scroll down, because I am done. I’m quitting the fight. I have received a revelation, a revelation made from absence. And that revelation reveals to me that it is too late. The hour is passed.

    Talk talk talk. I hear a million words a day it seems. NO ACTION! We could maybe TALK our way into fixing the problem, but then we’ve done that for decades now, to no avail. Nothing gets better. EVERYTHING gets worse. And that is what our masters want – so that we will truly become the sheep we seem determined to be. We won;t do the five steps ser Fabuis recommends, because of a host of reasons that have been hashed and rehashed and re re hashed ad infinitum ad absurbum. It NO LONGER MATTERS! We have PASSED the tipping point and yet we are debating the political beliefs of the iceberg that has doomed our Titanic. What matters now is not reform but survival after we sink. There aren’t enough lifeboats to escape what’s coming. So what do we do?

    I appreciate what Fabius is doing. It is worth the effort, but I am demoralized. I feel that it is too late. We have been bested. We are just not strong enough, internally, as a people anymore. If the enemy was an army and invading us, a la ‘Red Dawn’ then we would certainly rally around and fight and win – of that I have no doubt. But our new masters have out thought us – they have bested us and we just need to embrace the suck that commeth. As is noted elsewhere, it’ll be awhile before the new masters openly deride the old corrupt state – the senile Second Republic. And they may not even do so in our lifetimes. But only a fool will not recognize the Fascist American State that will be the reality, despite the lip service given to the old forms.

    So what do we do now? I don’t know. I’m going to hunker down and figure out how to give my children, whom I’ve cursed by bringing them into this new world, some measure of safety. Will I give them the dreams of Liberty that I once had? That I served for two decades? I do not think I will handicap them with such nonsense. I do not see how we can free ourselves, nor how our children will be able to free themselves. For through the state our new masters and overlords now own the means to render all opposition irrelevant. They own the education system. I think that soon, within the next ten years, you will see less and less support and protection for homeschooling and then more government intrusion into the curriculum of private and religious schools. The overlords will control the horizontal and the vertical. They will control what you see and hear. And once that goes on long enough, who will rebel? Russia and East Germany and Nazi Germany failed because they moved too fast. Our overlords learned from them. And have taken the long view and it is succeeding because they have defanged those of us that could have stood fast, held the line, upheld the oath we all took.

    We became pundits. Instead of LEADING from THE FRONT, and BELIEVING IN OUR PRINCIPLES, we nattered and nabobbed. We have the conviction of these bad people changing the AMERICA that we believed in, people who undermined the CONSTITUTION, who by every manner and every reasoning met the definition of an ENEMY of the CONSTITUTION, DOMESTIC, ONE EACH, and we, what? We surely haven’t defended the Constitution. Ain’t NO way we can claim to have done that. The Attorney General of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, said that we are guaranteed ‘Due Process’ but NOT ‘JUDICAL PROCESS’ and went on to clarify JUST IN CASE WE MISSED IT, that that meant that as long as there was some form of process, and that it was due, then murder of U S Citizens overseas is OKAY! EVEN WITHOUT A TRIAL.

    But WAIT, Here’s the best part – there are TWO PUNCH LINES!
    1. (This is the LONG COMPLICATED PUNCHLINE) On THE WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE (http://www.whitehouse.gov/our-government/judicial-branch) it says AND I QUOTE “…Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person accused of wrongdoing has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one’s peers, A guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without the due process of law
    Protection against being tried for the same crime twice (“double jeopardy”)
    The right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury
    The right to cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses to support their case
    The right to legal representation
    The right to avoid self-incrimination
    Protection from excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments…”

    Gee, when did any of that happen for the two gents murdered in Yemen? But, hey, what the hell, we are AT WAR!!!!! With Yemen? No. With Saudi Arabia? No. Wait, just when and with who did Congress declare war against? No one? WTF? Oh, yeah, we are at something with terrorism. That makes it ok. But wait, which Terrorism? Who? Oh, yeah, ISLAMIC TERRORISM. The OTHER terrorisms aren’t that bad yet. But we’ll get around to them soon. Anyway, doesn’t matter.

    2. This is the Simple punchline. It’s also the reason that I have simply decided to embrace the suck. To accept that my country, nice as it was, still is in many ways, is done. Dead. Over. Superceeded. an EX country. It is no more. It has gone to meet it’s maker. It is singing the choir invisible.
    Anyway.
    NO ONE SAID ANYTHING. By that, I mean that NO NATIONAL NEWS ORGANIZATION SAID SHIT! No one raised holy hell. You know, those 60s ‘radicals’ THEY marched when they thought the country was off the reservation. But today? 401Ks in trouble, unemployment is at 9% or so, and well, I gotta make sure that I keep my job…even FOX is silent overall. Non one cares. Too busy.

    Ya know, the vets marched on Washington over a broken promise. Look it up (Nice video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkmo4ygPTjc) . They were promised something, the Government welshed (no surprise there) and they marched. Old General Macarthur, COS of the Army at the time, being a scumbag politician made sure that the ARMY ‘took care of it’ (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/peopleevents/pandeAMEX89.html) They’ve GANG RAPED our Constitution and we’ve done NOT ONE FUCKING THING! Talking is NOT DOING. Writing is NOT DOING. I know, I know the new jobs a hassle and the kids have the flu, the wife/husband needs me to help out more, what can I do, you’re overreacting, it’s not that bad. I know ALL the EXCUSES….I’ve used them too. So I guess in the end, I am just as guilty of neglect of the country as anyone else. Moreso. I BELIEIVED it was in trouble, and couldn’t be bothered. So I guess we do get the government we deserve.

    So I hereby give up the fight….no longer winnable. To the overlords I say “Well Played” and I acknowledge the superior opponent. You beat us…Enjoy the spoils of victory.”

    Terminus Adveho

    1. Whoa there, buddy. Come on… It’s a little dramatic, don’t you think? Overlords? New Masters?

      “Nothing gets better. EVERYTHING gets worse”

      Really?

    2. Quite right. The 20th century saw fantastic progress in many aspects of life. And esp so in the US. Improved public health care, both in terms of technology and wider access. And end to the post-civil war era, with the great legistlation and judicial rulings of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Liberation of women. The massive reductions in air and water pollution.

      It’s a long list.

  11. Would increasing the number of representatives help? There are over 600,000 people in my district. 1 Representative for every 600,000 people is too small for people to feel ‘ownership’ of their representative. I think the number ought to be an order of magnitude higher than 435 Representatives: 4,350.

    1. Chet Richards discusses this is in his great book If We Can Keep It. Consider the representative/citizen ratio in 1800 today. Restoring that would make the voting process very different — but the increased number of legislators would wreck Congress as a functioning entity. Power would concentrate in a smaller body, in order to operate effectively.

      In any case, I do not believe that our propblems are structural, to be fixed by tinkering with the org chart.

    2. Maybe that’s where I got the idea. I read that book I while back… but maybe not: the pages kept falling out due to poor publishing.

  12. I am not talking about material stuff when I say that everything gets worse…I am talking about the state of Government…..if you read what I am saying you should pick up on that. Overlords and masters are terms used simply to set context and mood. When they (those to whom I refer) have accrued as much power and control as they have, well masters and overlords pretty effectively conveys that. And what ever progress was made has long since been overwritten. What point is liberation of women and empowerment of blacks if the essential liberties of ALL have been reduced…when we have LESS ability to effect positive change, and that only when it suits the agenda of the powers that be? Name one ‘great legislative change’ that has occurred in the past 30 years? 20? 10?

    I stand by my assertions.

    1. ” Name one ‘great legislative change’ that has occurred in the past 30 years? 20? 10?”

      Repeal of Don’t ask don’t tell.
      Obama’s Health Care Act.

      “Great” is an ambiguous qualifier so I guess these work. No legislation really captivates me but these are by definition ‘great’ changes.

      ” we have LESS ability to effect positive change”

      I don’t think so. You can run a company now with just a computer that would have required 5 staff members. Technology has increased everybody’s ability to ‘effect’ change.

      “What point is liberation of women and empowerment of blacks ”

      Ask them, I’m sure they have a good answer for you.

      Terminus, I totally agree there is a ton of really screwed up things in laws and government, in culture, etc., but I think life overall is pretty awesome. At least mine is. And not just material things. Maybe by extension, but things like surfing in clean water on free beaches are really great.
      Some countries can’t even manage that (public beaches, clean water).

  13. Two ideas:

    Let the security apparatus know you aren’t happy. Tell TSA to go fuck themselves at the airport. Even if you just mutter it under your breath. Pretty timid, I know. But you can’t expect a sheep to turn into a lion overnight.

    We’re gonna have to come up with something that insults the american people, fits in a sound byte, and goes viral. Something so popular on youtube that it HAS to make the evening news. Easier said than done. Still, googling ‘Scumbag America’ or ‘First World Problems’ might be a good start.

  14. Great stuff, FB. I grew up looking at my grandfather’s “cruise book” from the Asiatic Fleet, Yangze River Patrols, and the War in the Pacific (lots of Navy “influence”, “Navy infantry”;) to include pictures of Humanitarian Assistance specifically massive floods)…back when we could strategically plan and execute with a Department of War and Department of Navy rather than the current “integrated” Department adn the Lead Federal Agency (LFA) approaches of modern America. While the NSA of 1947 helped guide use for 60 years, i.e. until on/or about 1989, with all the other new agencies and failures of specific agenies over the last few decades wonder if this has something to do with your perception the status of our “Third Republic”.

    If I have may list of party that created modern federal agencies (W- TSA, HLS; R-DEA, N-EPA,FEMA, PLUS a number more)….T-DOD….Truman is the only one that got ride of two departments to establish on integrated Department.

    We should question how we are organized and how we respond.

Leave a Reply